Reckless driving usually crosses the line from a traffic infraction to a possible criminal charge and can be a Class One misdemeanor. Class One misdemeanors come with a maximum fine of $2,500 and the possibility of jail time for up to 12 months, so it is not a charge to be taken lightly. So, if you get charged with reckless driving and convicted, you can face extremely serious consequences.
The Virginia courts take reckless driving much more seriously than you might think. For some criminal charges, it’s difficult for you to see the reason behind them. It is not uncommon in Virginia for judges and prosecutors to be overly aggressive in the penalties imposed when you are convicted of driving in a very reckless fashion.
Because reckless driving is usually considered a criminal offense, it is important for you to know exactly what reckless driving in Virginia is and that it is considered more severe than most other traffic infractions.
Many times, traffic infractions can simply be paid ahead of time. You may or may not have to appear in court and the infraction can have only minor impacts on your driving record, such as three, four, or six points on your license. For the case of reckless driving in Virginia, the process is like a traffic infraction, but you almost always will get a court date and must appear in court.
Most of the impact of the consequences imposed on you will take place after the court date happens. That is why it is vitally important for you to seek help ahead of time and to consult with a Fairfax reckless driving lawyer to get advice and to have them defending you by your side in court.
What usually occurs is a hearing, but many times a trial could take place in which the officer testifies, you and other persons involved in the incident testify, and the judge decides the case and may issue a severe reckless driving penalty.
What is the Maximum Penalty for a Reckless Driving Conviction in Virginia?
Usually, the most severe penalty for reckless driving in Virginia, if you get convicted, is a Class One misdemeanor. This penalty can impose up to a $2,500 fine and jail time for up to 12 months.
The Virginia statutes have categories of misdemeanors and felonies. The Virginia code categorizes everything and the usual charge for reckless driving, is a Class One misdemeanor. However, your Fairfax reckless driving lawyer, according to the specific details of your case, will fully explain this statute and if you may receive the maximum punishment the state of Virginia could impose.
There are times when you can have a valid explanation for your actions, but in many cases, a rational explanation behind your motivation is not made. If you are represented professionally, and your case is presented in-depth, the judge may only give you an exceptionally long lecture about the law and the procedures needed for you not to drive the way you did. Just do not underestimate a Virginia reckless driving charge and fail to take it seriously.
Can I Face Even more Harsh Penalties for a Reckless Driving Conviction?
You probably will be surprised when you find out that reckless driving is a criminal offense in Virginia. Like any other criminal offense, a reckless driving charge can lead to fines, loss of driving privileges, and jail time.
Simply, some of the more severe penalties the Virginia courts can impose are:
- Criminal Penalty for 1st time reckless driving offense – Reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor under Virginia law, but can even be a Class 6 felony, depending on the specific circumstances of your reckless driving case. These offenses can result in high monetary fines, driver’s license suspension or revocation, and severe jail time.
- Jail Time – Virginia law does allow for a maximum jail sentence of 12 years for reckless driving. Usually, you don’t get jail time for a first offense, but if you have a history of reckless driving or are charged with going super-fast, your jail sentence usually will increase. If your reckless driving charge is a Class 6 felony, you could get a jail sentence of one to five years.
- Other penalties for reckless driving – The minimum fine for a Class 1 misdemeanor and a Class 6 felony for reckless driving in Virginia is $2,500. A judge can either reduce or increase that fine amount according to your case details.
Also, your insurance will almost always be affected and will increase greatly in price, or not be able to be obtained at all.
Depending on the circumstances of your reckless driving charge, a conviction could result in a criminal record. It’s impossible to expunge convictions in Virginia, so your criminal record could negatively affect a background check.
You begin to see the serious nature of this charge and how it can affect your life. Make sure you are professionally represented in court, so this possible mistake doesn’t follow you forever.
What Else Do I Need to Know About a Reckless Driving Charge in Virginia?
Laws change all the time, and Virginia has added to the reckless driving laws over the years.
Previously, the law usually defined “anything over 80 mph as being reckless” in addition to anything 20 MPH above the limit. Some new laws still charge anything 20 MPH over, but usually the change mostly only matters in zones of 65 mph and higher. However, it does tend to have an overall effect on the way that these speeds will be viewed. Commonly today, harsher penalties and criminal charges are handed down.
The Police write an average of 1,000 or more traffic tickets in Fairfax County every day and they can mandate criminal charges. So, make sure you have the right legal representation for the protection of your rights and your freedoms.
I’ve Been Charged with Reckless Driving, What Should I Do First?
It’s clear now, that the consequences of a reckless driving charge can be severe and impose life-changing penalties on you. The Fairfax law firm of Scott C. Nolan has been extremely successful in helping clients dispute reckless driving charges. Consult with them now, before your future is severely impacted.